Does bitterness of heart trouble your soul? Do you carry with you the pain of past offenses that either you committed, or that someone else committed against you? Our Abba wants you to be washed of these things so that you can be free to delight in a new day.
Welcome to day 11 of our 30 Days of Prayer series. I’m thrilled you’ve stuck with me so far!
Bitterness and unforgiveness are often linked together in unison, which is why our Abba wants to get to the bottom of these things in our hearts. When we have bitterness, we have separation of soul. Our inner man becomes weighed down from a weight that is not ours to carry: vengeance of heart.
So, let’s unpack this emotional escapade and unite heart and mind to one another that forgiveness can bring freedom.
30 Days of Prayer: Pray to Accept & Extend Forgiveness
I know what it is to forgive, and how difficult it can often be.
This world is a hard place to be very often. Sins abound and are now even encouraged, and the whole world can often feel so very upside down.
Yet, in the midst of all of these burdensome things, our Abba still calls us to forgive others for their sins against us. Not only this, but He reveals the deep connection between our work to forgive others and our relationship with Him.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” ~ Matt. 6: 14-15
There is much for us to work out in our walk with the Lord.
The deepening of the faith comes through the walking it out and fleshing out the work that has already been accomplished in Christ, but is now being put forth into every crevice of our being.
This is the work of sanctification: the process of cleansing from sin and putting into action the righteous life that a believer is called to, one little work at a time.
Forgiveness is a central component of the sanctification process. It is foundational to everything that a believer claims to be in Christ.
[bctt tweet=”Forgiveness is a central component of the sanctification process. It is foundational to everything that a believer claims to be in Christ.” via=”no”]
If we have not forgiveness of sins, what hope do we have in Him?
Just as we are the receivers of the gift of forgiveness from our Abba, against whom we have done all our atrocities and evil works, we are to reflectively extend that same forgiveness to others, as we know that we are no better than them.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” ~ Rom. 3: 23-24
Some of us may not have the same degree of sins that have occurred. Maybe we feel our sins are minor while those of others are the truly grievous sins. The problem is that to our Abba, sin is sin. Even our petty crimes without forgiveness would land us in eternal damnation. Let us never be so brazen to compare our sins against others, for this is self-righteousness.
Those of us who have sins perceived as minor are often also those most apt to judge and condemn. This is the work of the enemy, not the heart of God. Be careful how you walk, sweet sister.
Forgive often. Love much.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” ~ Luke 7: 47
Lord, Give Me Your Eyes so I can See
Many years ago our marriage was struggling through some very difficult times and I was called to forgive much with my husband for things he was going through that I just could not understand. These struggles within him bore painful circumstances and events into our life that I did NOT want to deal with!
During one particular portion of this season I was carrying so much pain and unforgiveness in my heart towards my husband. However, with all of that pain and hurt, I could still sense the Lord calling me to forgive, forgive.
My heart cried out, “Abba! If You want me to forgive You are going to have to give me eyes to see him that way You do. I want to want to forgive him. Help me to see him through Your eyes.”
In that moment I saw an image of a dark, dark room. My husband, pictured as a little boy (no more than 10 years old), was huddled in the corner, crouched down and hiding, terrified beyond all belief. He was crying, sobbing, and crying out for help, but could not see how to escape the darkness all around him.
I could feel the love and compassion emanating from our Abba for my husband, and for the first time I could see clearly why: inside this man who I lived with day in and day out was still a scared little boy who needed the guidance and love from His Abba to help him to escape the darkness and to be freed into the Light.
Seeing him through my Father’s eyes broke my heart open for the first time, and instead of resentment and hatred in my heart, I felt compassion for this inner pain that my Abba wanted to heal inside of him.
The experience was powerful, and life-changing. It set me on the path of resilience to continually pour into our marriage everything I had within me that emerged from my walk with the Lord. I carefully and diligently planted the seeds for an eventual harvest in our marriage, and now we are about to hit our 14 year anniversary.
The Lord has done miraculous things for us.
Acceptance of Forgiveness is also Needed
Maybe, though, you are on the opposite side. Maybe you are the one who had grievous sins for which you are acutely aware. You can hear the condemnation and accusations of horror and judgement within your soul at the drop of a dime. And, the pain torment of the past just never seems to cease.
Sweet sister, I am sorry for the struggle you endure. Take heart that in Christ all creatures are made new. Now it is time to be freed from the chains of the past and bring the lies under the dominion of Christ.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9
Yes, you have done hurtful things in the past. You are forgiven. Maybe you caused great pain in others, too. Work towards reconciliation, but you can only do your part in that healing work. Leave the rest in the hands of God.
You are forgiven by the work of Christ, not your own.
When you will not forgive yourself for your sins, you are taking Christ out of the sacrificial place as Savior, and attempting to replace yourself with Him. This may not be your intent, but it is nevertheless what is happening spiritually.
By harboring unforgiveness of self, you are denying the work of Christ for your life, proclaiming that your sin is too horrible for God to forgive.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people…Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” ~ Titus 2: 11, 14
No sin is too great for our Abba to forgive if repentance of heart is present in the sinner.
It is repentance and sorrow for the sin that has been done that unlocks the reception of grace abounding.
Bring your sorrow to Him and confess your lack of acceptance, and continue to seek Him for the internalizing of your forgiveness.
Rebuke the devil who desires to keep you snared. Each time the reminder of your past comes up, proclaim inside and out loud (if needed), “I AM FREE! That is no longer who I am! I am a Child of God, set free by the work of Christ! I am not held chained by my past, but set free in Him! And, He has set my feet on the Rock that I may be found purified and cleaned.”
Proclaim as often as needed until you no longer struggle with believing the lie. Repeat whenever the attacks come.
The enemy will always attack where a portion of the spiritual wall is weak. Strengthen your inner faith wall (the armor of God) with the Truth.
Yes, even the most grievous sins are forgiven.
Corrie Ten Boom is an inspiration to me in so many ways. Her stories of hope and restoration in the face of horrible atrocities never cease to stir my heart to abundant awe. Her faith inspires me.
In this post she shares an incredible story about when God called her to forgive one of the Nazi guards who were part of the murder of countless Jewish citizens. Corrie had just given a speech about the necessity of forgiveness for the life of a believer, and a familiar face approached her in the crowd afterward.
She knew the face. She had passed by it naked and ashamed as she was tormented, ridiculed, tortured, and desperate. This same face now came forward to ask for her direct forgiveness, just as this person had done before God after his own heinous crimes.
I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein”–again the hand came out–“will you forgive me?”
Corrie Ten Boom, a renowned speaker on forgiveness, stood frozen. Within her soul she knew that God commands forgiveness, and yet she struggled to forgive. Her pain was so deep. She has this to say of the next event:
‘I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality.
Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.’
‘Jesus, help me!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.”
The incredible Love and Forgiveness of God can restore even incredible pain and sorrow with redemption and hope.
THAT’S OUR GOD!
Take the step of obedience, even if the feeling is not yet true
Just as I was wisely told long ago, the same is true today: Act first and your feelings follow.
More specifically, choose to act in obedience, even when the feelings are not yet present. Often we must do the work of cleansing our hearts and minds through the leading of these pieces of ourselves in our works. But, if we have the faith of salvation, and the hope of restoration, than our actions must follow with our works.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” ~ James 2: 26
I would provide another long list of scripture references to forgiveness, but I think there is a lot to chew on in this post.
If we are struggling with forgiving yourself, or forgiving someone else, now is the time to take this to the throne of God and pray for His guidance and filling of love. Lay down the pain of the sorrow you feel, and leave it in His hands to deal with as He will.
Trust that our Abba is good and righteous, with greater plans of hope than we could even imagine. Remember that our pain is not worse than His, and He will do what is needed to make right the wrongs in this world in His proper timing.
Forgiveness does not free the other person from your wrath, but rather frees YOU to live unchained from the events of the past.
Forgive others, forgive yourself, and embrace a new life of freedom found only in the Love and Redemption of Christ.
Abba, help me to release the pain and suffering of unforgiveness. I need Your healing hand in my life. Show me what I need to do to reconcile my wrongs, and to be freed from this struggle within me. I declare right now that I am not defined by my past, and I am not held captive to the works of evil! YOU have freed me. The work of Christ on the cross has paid the penalty, and I have no need to carry that weight for You! You have got this! Help me to no longer be chained by the past, but to walk unhindered in You. When attacks come, give me the words to fight the good fight and stand firmly in the Truth. Cover me with Your armor as I turn into Your hands and place my life under Your headship. I welcome and accept the forgiveness You offer. Thank You for Your all-consuming love for me. In Your Son’s holy name, amen.
In His Name, freedom reigns.